RSA 2015 CFP: Early Modern Chronologies


CFP: Early Modern Chronologies

Session organized for the RSA 2015 Annual Meeting in Berlin,
26–28 March 2015


The early modern period witnessed the full bloom of scientific chronology thanks to the development of new scientific and scholarly tools and (re-)discovery of certain historical sources. Catholic, Calvinist, Lutheran and even Socinian scholars – among them philologists and astronomers, historians and astrologers – explored enthusiastically ancient and/or exotic languages, historical records and astronomical data in order to reconstruct and date events from the common Judaeo-Christian history and to synchronize their dating with other systems of time-reckoning.

This session will consider the role of chronology in the intellectual history of early modern period from various angles, among them: (1) relationship between chronology and other disciplines of knowledge in early modern period; (2) scholarly workshop of particular Renaissance chronologists; (3) teaching of chronology in early modern schools; (4) chronological models and their impact on historiography; (5) cultural and social impact of chronological disputes.

Please send paper proposals (150-word maximum) followed by a brief CV (300-word maximum) to me by May 26th.

Michal Choptiany (michal.choptiany[AT]

P.S. Please make sure to familiarize yourself with RSA obligations (membership, fees, travel costs, etc.). In order to do this please visit the conference homepage at

Spaces of Knowledge

Back in 2010, when I started to work as a secretary of the board of the Autoportret quarterly, a Kraków-based magazine dedicated to anthropology of space, it turned out that we shared some interest in the relationship between space, architecture and production of knowledge. It took some time before this idea ripened and could serve as a basis for the journal’s thematic issue and find its place in the editorial plan. But it finally happened and I am pleased to inform you that the issue of Autoportret on the spaces of knowledge has come of the press.

This information is addressed mostly to the Polish speaking readers of Chronologia Universalis, but I believe I owe the readers of this blog a brief overview of the issue as some of the articles may be of interest to them, even despite the language barrier. We are starting with the 2009 lecture on Google Books which was given by Robert Darnton at the Frankfurt Book Fair and published in his The Case for Books. Darnton’s essay is complemented by an impression on virtual graveyard written by the AESD collective, originally published at their website. I took the occasion to settle the score with issue which got my attention while I was working on my doctorate, i.e. the spatial metaphors of knowledge in early modern treatises which dovetails with an literary and visual essay prepared by Jakub Woynarowski, a Kraków artists and designer. There are two essays on cartography, one on the role of maps in building the identity in the Renaissance Poland-Lithuania, written by Jakub Niedźwiedź, and the other by Tomasz Kamusella, on the ideological role of historical atlases. The idea of the library is the strongest point of reference for the whole issue of the journal (cf. editorial questionnaire, interview with Dariusz Śmiechowski and photographic essay by Nicholas Grospierre) but there is also an article on the design of the Cité internationale universitaire de Paris by Katarzyna Mrugała. Finally, through essays by Matteo Trincas and Davide Pisu (Osmosis) as well as by Rossano Baronciani and Krzysztof Korżyk we are having a look at the problem of evolution (or devolution) of knowledge in the digital world.

It was a great pleasure for me to get back to the editorial work I left behind in Kraków and to stay in touch with this wonderful group of authors. I wish to thank the editors of the journal for their trust and support and I hope the future will bring us further opportunities to collaborate.

Below you will find the cover of this issue of Autoportret, designed by Anna Zabdyrska, and here you will find some further information in Polish.

Autoportret 44 - Spaces of Knowledge

“The calendar went off course”

There could be no better date to talk about calendar reform and determination of the dates of Passover and Easter than the spring equinox. On March 20, 2014 I gave a talk at the Faculty of “Artes Liberales” on a series of Old Polish polemical treatises, literary dialogues and pamphlets which circulated between 1580’s and 1660’s, creating thus a fascinating series of arguments for and against the Gregorian calendar and its relation to the Julian calendar. The talk was a part of the “Warsaw Old Polish Thursdays” seminar, a cycle of lectures which gather (mostly Warsaw-based) scholars who work in the field of Old Polish literature, culture and history. Below I am embedding the podcast which is unfortunately in Polish. For the English-speaking readers of this blog I have only a brief outline of the talk but would also like to assure you the posts which are about to appear here in the future will for various reasons echo the content of the record.

Speaking about echo, I owe you at least an explanation of the title. The phrase in quotation marks, in Polish: kalendarz z kluby swej wypadł, is taken from from Kasjan Sakowicz‘s The Old Calendar of 1640 and it served him a number of times as a powerful metaphor in his argument for the acknowledgement of the corrected calendar by the Uniates. I like it also because somewhere, on a very deep level, it echoes the famous “The time is out of joint” phrase from the first act of Hamlet. And despite the fact Sakowicz was neither a prince of Denmark, nor a forgotten author of a newly discovered 17th-century Polish translation of Shakespeare’s tragedy, he used similar categories to diagnose the experience of chaos (which obviously in his case was something completely different from the chaos experienced by Hamlet).


And here is the abstract:

“The calendar went off course”: Old Polish polemical writings and the problem of the calendar reform

The polemical texts related to the reform of the calendar introduced by Gregory XIII in 1582 have been largely overlooked in the previous studies on the Old Polish literature. The correction of the system of calendar calculation resulted in Poland-Lithuania in a series of brochures published by astronomers, theologians, and polemicists who represented a whole range of confessions. The texts of authors who engaged in the debate, among them the Jesuits such as Marcin Łaszcz and Stanisław Grodzicki, Uniate priests such as Kasjan Sakowicz and Jan Dubowicz, as well as Kraków-based astronomer Jan Brożek constitute an intriguing series of attempts to persuade the members of the Greek-Catholic Church to acknowledge the new calendar and method of determining the mobile holidays. In my talk, I intend to bring up such issues as (1) argumentative strategies employed by the polemicists; (2) role and variety of literary genres used in the debate; (3) political role of these brochures; (4) sources of scientific views of the debate’s participants; (5) authors’ knowledge of other methods of calendar calculation, the Jewish calendar in particular.

P.S. I wish to thank the organizers of the “Old Polish Thursdays” for giving me the opportunity to present my research. I would also like to thank all the participants for their inspiring questions and comments.